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A Global Judicial News Report: February 2023


Judicature International (2023) | An online-only publication

Afghanistan 🇦🇫

Roza Otunbayeva, the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), met with de facto Taliban minister of justice Abdul Hakim Sharai and urged him to renew the licenses for women defense lawyers. Under Taliban control, the UN reports that 1,300 male defense attorneys have had their law licenses renewed while over 250 women judges and hundreds of female attorneys have been removed from the bar. Otunbayeva emphasized that renewing licenses for women defense lawyers is vital, as their “expertise remains critical for enabling equitable access to justice for Afghan women and children.” (UNAMA)

Ecuador 🇪🇨

The international news agency Agence France-Presse reported that Ecuador’s government filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office accusing six judges of maintaining links with organized crime. Ecuador’s public security secretary, Diego Ordonez, alleged the judges’ names “came up repeatedly in a series of cases” related to drug trafficking, arms trafficking, and assassination. For years, Ecuador had avoided falling victim to major drug cartel activity. Recently, however, its location between two major cocaine producers, Columbia and Peru, has made it a hub for narco-trafficking and placed it in the center of escalating violence between drug cartels. This recent rise in cartel activity has also compromised the Ecuadorian judiciary. In 2022 alone, the prosecutor’s office reported that it opened 43 investigations into “corruption crimes committed by judicial officials.” (Barron’s)

Germany 🇩🇪

Germany’s highest constitutional court ruled that provisions authorizing law enforcement’s use of automated data analysis software to prevent crime are unconstitutional. The German Society for Civil Rights brought the case over concerns that the software produced by U.S.-based Palantir Technologies used “innocent people’s data to form suspicions and could . . . produce errors [ ] affecting people at risk of police discrimination.” The court’s president, Judge Stephan Harbarth, said the court’s decision leaves open the possibility for states to rewrite the law to properly regulate the software’s use “in a constitutional manner.” In December, German law enforcement used the Palantir software to assist the investigation that thwarted a violent far-right plot to overthrow the German government. (Reuters)

International Criminal Court 🌐

In late January, the International Criminal Court’s Pre-trial Chamber I authorized the Office of the Prosecutor to resume its investigation into the Philippine government’s war on drugs. Prosecutor Karim Khan’s investigation was suspended in 2021 after the Philippines said the ICC lacked jurisdiction to investigate because the Philippine government was conducting an ongoing investigation. Under Article 17 of the Rome Statute, the ICC will not prosecute an otherwise admissible case “unless the State is unwilling or unable genuinely to carry out the investigation or prosecution.” Here, the Pre-trial Chamber concluded that the Philippines was not “undertaking relevant investigations” and had failed to make “a real or genuine effort to carry out such investigations . . . to warrant a deferral of the Court’s investigations.” (ICC)

Israel 🇮🇱

Protests continued in Israel as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government forged ahead with a bill that critics worry will weaken the independence of Israel’s judiciary. The proposed legislation would overhaul the Israeli legal system and allow the Knesset to overturn Supreme Court rulings with a majority vote. On February 20, the bill began the first of three readings in the Knesset despite calls to delay the legislation. In a statement to Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, President Biden said, “The genius of American democracy and Israeli democracy is that they are both built on strong institutions, on checks and balances, on an independent judiciary.” Friedman noted the significance of the President’s statement, writing that “This is the first time I can recall a U.S. President has ever weighed in on an internal Israeli debate about the very character of the country’s democracy.” (NY Times)

United States 🇺🇸

The American Bar Association’s House of Delegates adopted Resolution 400, urging the Supreme Court to adopt a binding code of judicial ethics. Resolution 400 calls for a code of ethics for the Supreme Court comparable to the one adopted by the Judicial Conference of the United States that applies to federal district and appellate court judges. The adoption of Resolution 400 comes in the wake of controversies that have caused the U.S. legal community to question whether Supreme Court justices should be free to make their own recusal decisions (See herehere, and here). (ABA)

The February 2023 Global Judicial News Report was compiled and written by Grady S. MacPhee, J.D., LL.M. candidate at Duke University School of Law.